Packer's Middle School students offered a wonderful performance of "The Phantom Tollbooth" this fall.
Director Patricia Runcie-Rice reflects on our Middle School students' production:
This year in the MS Theatre program we are examining the journey we take as children that lead us to the adults we will become. We spend a relatively short amount of time as children. And yet, so much of our childhood informs our lives as adults. It’s a magical time. Of wonder. Of discovery. And it can be a difficult time filled with traps, pitfalls, and as much as we’d like to avoid them, sometimes disappointments.
Our play opens with meeting Milo, who is bored at home, and we hear how they are restless wherever they may be. When they are in school, they want to be home. When they are home, they want to be in school. To Milo, nothing ever happens and nothing ever changes. Until one day when a mysterious Tollbooth finds their way into their room, and they are transported to a magical land.
However, in this new landscape, Milo finds a world (and a family) that has been divided due to conflicting ideologies. And with this enduring conflict, there is no longer rhyme or reason in the kingdom. Will Milo be able to not only save themselves from an apathetic existence, but also unify the people of this fantastical world? In rehearsals we spoke a lot about the power of words, the power of compromise and the power of collaboration. In fact, we have a tradition in the MS theatre of ending our rehearsals with a circle in which we say aloud one particular word, ‘ensemble’, to remind us of the commitment we have made to one another and to how we are charged with keeping this notion at the forefront of our work together. This particular company has made this word come alive, as is evidenced by their many, many ‘shout-outs’ of appreciation and affection to one another in rehearsals. I believe that this production of The Phantom Tollbooth has helped us all truly internalize the meaning behind those letters' configuration that we say so often.
After a year of all of us being home in various states of ‘The Doldrums’, and living in a country that at times has felt divided, this story suddenly resonated in a new way! It seemed appropriate to select a production that would provide a brief escape with an epic, pun-filled journey that delivers a message worth hearing. Growing up reading stories such as this and watching movies like ‘The Never Ending Story”, “Labyrinth”, and “Goonies”, a play that is a whimsical coming of age adventure felt like a familiar friend to invite back into the theatre after our Covid hiatus. We hope that you enjoy our unique version of this classic story (you may notice some of our not always subtle nods to 1980s pop culture peppered throughout the production)! Thank you for joining us back in the Pratt Theatre!
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